The kind of class struggle between the capitalists and the working class described by Marx is without a doubt, still at work in present-day capitalist society. Although the extent to which his predictions are validated varies from one society to the next, the general theoretical framework that he explains is prevalent in many of the conditions that are present in our society.
While it is important to acknowledge that the capitalist system in 1848 when the Communist Manifesto was written was very different than the one we live in today, it is crucial that we consider the context in which these class struggles are taking place.The general standard of living and quality of life during Marx s life was much lower, therefore we cannot compare the absolute poor conditions that the working class faced then, to those that are present today. What we can compare, however, is the relative levels of oppression and exploitation faced by the working class that has been consistent over time. Examples of these existing class struggles can be seen everywhere in our society that most, if not all, of us have encountered at one point perhaps without even noticing.
As mentioned above, the horrible conditions that arrived as a result of the rise of capitalism during Marx s time may not be present in today s society. People worked long hours in dangerous conditions where there were no forms of protection for those who could not adapt to the modern way of life. The loss of one s job could mean homeless ness or even death. Today, there are various forms of protection such as social security, welfare, and unemployment to shield the less fortunate.
These forms of protection, however, do not eliminate the class struggles and the threat of poverty for the lower class.The very concept of a free market economy has actually created an unfreedom in our country. Although I personally have been fortunate enough to be able to escape most situations described above; there are experiences in almost all of the jobs that I have held contribute to my argument. The best example of exploitation that I experienced was when I agreed to work for a friend (now ex-friend) as a student painter through a program called starving students.
Perhaps you have heard of the program.Although I am not certain of the specific mechanics of the program, once I felt that I was being taken advantage of, I decided to leave. In short, this program gives aspiring businessmen/women an opportunity to run their own painting business during the summer. After a long application process, a select number of students receive this opportunity to make a large sum of money plus a trip to some tropical destination.
I will call these people the capitalists. They create their own wages and recruit as many or few employees, or workers they desire.I was one of only four others who agreed to work for this particular person while the other capitalists had at least six or seven others to do their work. Our group was convinced that although this meant longer hours for us, but also more money as well.
To cut a long story short, things turned sour when I found myself painting all day almost everyday, only to find out that others were working much less, but getting paid the same amounts. Most of the others were paid an hourly rate regardless of the size of the job and they were able to alternate workdays since there were more of them.